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Calling on Brian Kemp to Resign, Jimmy Carter Says Being a Candidate While Also Controlling Election Process Violates 'Most Fundamental Principle' of Democracy

"In order to foster voter confidence in the upcoming election, which will be especially important if the race ends up very close, I urge you to step aside."

With massive purges of registered voters from the state's roles sparking widespread condemnation and suppression efforts being challenged in court, Jimmy Carter said Brian Kemp operating as both a candidate and the top election authority in Georgia is a violation of the "most fundamental principle of democratic elections." (Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images/AFP)

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who has also spearheaded election monitor in countries across the world for decades, has called on Brian Kemp—the Georgia Republican who is running for governor while also serving as Secretary of State—to resign from his post in order to ensure integrity of the state's upcoming election.

"In Georgia’s upcoming gubernatorial election, popular confidence is threatened not only by the undeniable racial discrimination of the past and the serious questions that the federal courts have raised about the security of Georgia’s voting machines, but also because you are now overseeing the election in which you are a candidate." —Jimmy Carter

With major purges of registered voters from the state's roles sparking widespread condemnation and suppression efforts being challenged in court, Carter warned that Kemp operating as both a candidate and the top election authority is a violation of the "most fundamental principle of democratic elections."

Carter issued his request to Kemp in a letter sent last week, but the Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter and published it Monday.

"In order to foster voter confidence in the upcoming election, which will be especially important if the race ends up very close," the letter states, "I urge you to step aside and hand over to a neutral authority the responsibility of overseeing the governor’s election. This would not address every concern, but it would be a sign that you recognize the importance of this key democratic principle and want to ensure the confidence of our citizens in the outcome."

Amid the controversy and outrage sparked by Kemp's behavior, voting rights advocates in the state and nationwide have been urging people to counter the suppression effort with a massive get-out-the-vote drive for his Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams:

As Talking Point Memo notes, "Disclosure of Carter's letter comes with Kemp under scrutiny from multiple fronts, chief among them 53,000 voter registrations being held up by Kemp’s office. Under the state’s strict election laws, mail-in registrations must match exactly a voter's records on file with the Social Security Administration or Georgia’s driver’s license agency."

Below is the full text of Carter's letter, as obtained by AP:

October 22, 2018

To Secretary of State Brian Kemp:

I have officially observed scores of doubtful elections in many countries, and one of the key requirements for a fair and trusted process is that there be nonbiased supervision of the electoral process.

In Georgia’s upcoming gubernatorial election, popular confidence is threatened not only by the undeniable racial discrimination of the past and the serious questions that the federal courts have raised about the security of Georgia’s voting machines, but also because you are now overseeing the election in which you are a candidate. This runs counter to the most fundamental principle of democratic elections — that the electoral process be managed by an independent and impartial election authority. Other secretaries of state have stepped down while running for election within their jurisdiction, to ensure that officials without a direct stake in the process can take charge and eliminate concerns about a conflict of interest.

In order to foster voter confidence in the upcoming election, which will be especially important if the race ends up very close, I urge you to step aside and hand over to a neutral authority the responsibility of overseeing the governor’s election. This would not address every concern, but it would be a sign that you recognize the importance of this key democratic principle and want to ensure the confidence of our citizens in the outcome.

Sincerely,

Jimmy Carter

The Honorable Brian F. Kemp
Secretary of State
214 State Capitol
Atlanta, Georgia 30334

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